Looking for Tracking / Mixing Advice

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by zydeceltico, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. zydeceltico

    zydeceltico Active Member

    Hi all - -

    After many years away from the music industry which I used to be completely immersed in, I find myself back in but pretty unfamiliar with the new technology. I'm recording from home with Reaper, KRK rockit 5's ( I know, I know about ported monitors ), a roland quad capture (just up-graded to a MOTU ultralight but haven't had time to tackle the learning curve), ezdrummer and several expansions, guitar rig 5, a rode nt1a, and various guitars, and a cheap yamaha sampling keyboard with even cheaper piano samples.

    I have years of experience on the delivering end of a guitar or piano writing music but have oh so humblingly little experience on the technical end of recording and mixing. I am rapidly learning about compression and not burning hot to tape the way used to love to do.

    I am wondering if anyone can give me some insight, tips, or tricks they use when tracking/mixing/mastering with basic gear to get these remarkably clear and powerful mixes I am hearing everywhere from home studios. Mine feel "little" and I have been told "old-school" - lol - whihc really shouldn't some as much of a surprise to me.

    In any regard - I am recording mostly country rockish style arrangements so acoustic gtrs, electric bass, les pauls and strats thru guitar rig, and ezdrummer which I m finally getting a pretty good handle on.

    One particular song cover mix is at

    It waas intended for an ad campaign but I doubt the mix is up to snuff.

    I would love a brutal mix critique of this recording. and any thoughts at all of how I could have tracked, mixed, or mastered it better and differently in order to better compete in the marketplace -as it wwould be hugely appreciated.


  2. gehauser

    gehauser Active Member

    "File not found" on your uploaded mix.
  3. zydeceltico

    zydeceltico Active Member

    You should be able to find it now at timbrogdon's sounds on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free. http://www.soundcloud.com/timbrogdon


  4. gehauser

    gehauser Active Member

    I listened to Version 3 and V1. Nice song, well-performed.

    The mixed Version 3 sounds reasonably good to me. Good balance overall - you might bring up the drums and bass a wee bit.

    My only critical comments would be:

    1) The acoustic gtr tracks sound a bit shrill. Are there 2 acoustic gtr tracks and 1 electric gtr track? Upper mids seem to be fighting each other on these instruments. Some EQ to get separation or definition between all the guitars might be helpful. I liked the single guitar in V1 - sounded good with your voice in the intro. Maybe all the compression in Version 3 is causing the shrillness.
    2) Guitars are kinda busy-sounding in Version 3. If you want to feature the acoustic, maybe give it a part of its own somewhere, with just bass behind it maybe.
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Your acoustic guitar sounds all too direct. There is no acoustic body to the acoustic guitar sound. This cannot necessarily be accomplished solely with digital reverb and other digital effects. What you can do to correct this issue is to re-amp the guitar from the output of your computer audio interface into an amplified speaker with a microphone on that. The microphone is then fed back to the computer audio interface and assigned to a new record track. You'll then get a heck of a lot more bawdy out of the sound of the acoustic guitar. This can be repeated more than once to actually create a broader and stereo effect by utilizing multiple passes to multiple new tracks. It's a trip a lot of us have utilized when taking a guitar direct. You want it big and you want it spread out in the stereo image. I frequently put microphones on the acoustic guitar along with taking its direct output. When that's not done, I simply take the direct guitar track and re-amp that guitar track a couple of times over. You could utilize 2 different guitar amplifiers and other stereo effects. It's a cool and fun thing to do and to screw around with.

    DI & mics is the way to go.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  6. zydeceltico

    zydeceltico Active Member

    Thanks all for all of the great insight. I'm putting all of this to work!

    Thanks again - - and any other insight you might have is always appreciated!

  7. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Do you have all the tracks still? I would personally mix it again. The acoustics are shrill. I don't know if it's because of the way you recorded them or if it's something you did with eq. I can hear the room though. I don't think it's a matter of mics too close. Maybe you were overcompensating for boominess. One thing that stuck out for me is the lack of panning in regards to the guitars. Everything seems dead center. I bet that if you panned the guitars, it would fill out a bit more. That's not to say that it would fix the mix. Just that it would help to create some separation and probably reveal some possible phase issues.
  8. zydeceltico

    zydeceltico Active Member

    I do still haave the tracks and I was indeed trying to compensate for "boomy-ness" with the eq. I have a Rode Nt1a at the 12th fret about 4 inches away from the fretboard. I guess I should try moving the mic up the neck a bit. I need to make the time to do some tests with my various guitars and mic placement to see what works best tonally for both strumming and picking. I'm really beginning to understand the whole one-size does-not fit-all thing. I am also rapidly climbing my way up the learning curve of doing substantially more with my "canned" drums in the same regard that you mention pannign the ac gtrs. Those gtrs are panned at about 10% left and right and I will start being more judicious in sending out further - along with everything else. That is probably a large part of my "tiny" mixes.

    Thank you so much for the feedback!

  9. aj113

    aj113 Active Member

    Nothing wrong with compression on the way down - especially if it's what you're used to and you can do it well. I do it pretty much all the time.

    The lead vocals sound like they are clipping to me - or maybe that's just the timbre of the voice?

    The kit has too much "stereo-ness" about it. It's not really doing it's job when the stereo returns are panned that wide, sounds a bit disconcerting to the listener.

    Also the lead vocal isn't sitting particularly well in the mix. Could be an EQ thing or a level thing - or both.

    Remy's advice as ever is great for the existing recorded sound of the guitar - I think I would try re-recording with a stereo pair, I think the mix has enough headroom in it to allow a stereo pair enough breathing space - provided you can get to grips with the room of course.

    If you can't get rid of the room effect, you could try recording with a duvet over your head. Yeah I know - not ideal, and not particularly professional, but it would work, and nobody listening to the track would be thinking 'hmmm....I think this guy recorded his guitar with a duvet over his head......'
  10. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    There's a joke in there somewhere. I know it.

    As far as drums being too stereo, I don't think that's true at all. I like to hear drums placed in the stereo field the way I expect them to be in an actual kit.

    The distortion on the vox? I like that. It's a little much but it's not "bad" distortion. As far as the vox not sitting in the mix, I think it would "sit" better once the guitars get "fixed". I think Remy is right on with the idea of moving the mics back on the guitar. You'll get two things out of this. It will allow the sound of the guitar to "develop" a bit more and it will minimize the boominess.

    Try not to eq the guitars so much. What might come across as boominess may be your room and/or your monitors. It may also be the volume you are listening at. When you solo a loud acoustic guitar, all of the boominess becomes magnified. If you throw it into the mix however and at a lower volume it may not seem so boomy. You can use a low cut filter at around 100hz and reduce some of 400-500hz but not too much. Otherwise, try re recording with the mic a good distance (10-20") away (or more even) from the body of the guitar toward the bridge.
  11. aj113

    aj113 Active Member

    Yes sorry I'm not being precise enough. I too like to hear the drums in the stereo field. What I'm talking about here is the effect return. There is too much of it, it's making every drum too wide.
  12. zydeceltico

    zydeceltico Active Member

    Wow - so much great info. THX!

    Vocals - yep - timbre of my voice. Nothing I can do about that - lol. Definitely not clipping. I've been thinking I might actually throw some more saturation on my voice just to g ahead and make it sound intentional.

    Drums - they're ezd and I am just now really digging into howto seperate all of the tracks and appropriately mix them. I read somewhere that I should start setting levels with the overheads and then the snare and that seems to make some sense to me - which is not done on this track - but is a by-product of this conversation. Of course - that won't always be the correct way but in some instances I can see the benefit of gettting the "room" right first with the drums. Panning - I'm hopingh will also resolve itself now that I am beginning to get a much better grasp on the broader mix picture. And I understand too what you're saying about the effects return. I really need to work on that aspect - on the entire mix - and not take it for granted - which I am realizing I have done.

    Acoustic gtr - - I like the duvet idea. lol - neighbors walk by the window all the time - now they can really wonder about us. lol. Actually - that "joke" inspired an idea to try to "soften" tthe 10x20 hardwood floor and slat and plaster room I am in. I'm going to build some soft baffles to set around me while I'm recording the gtr. and I am spending more time "placing" the mic. I'm going to try setting the mic much further away from the guitar than I have been and runt he mic a little hotter to see what I get.

    I can't thank you folks enough for all of the great insight. I'll have a remix/retake in a few days.

    Thank you again - -and if you hear or think of anything else - I can take the brutal truth really well - - I want and need to make this work. Your thoughts are hugely appreciated!!

  13. aj113

    aj113 Active Member

    ah...that's your problem right there. Soft baffles is the way to go in that case. And I would mic up closer not further if anything. The further away the mic is, the more you're going to negate the effectiveness of your baffles, and capture more of the room - which is exactly what you don't want.
  14. zydeceltico

    zydeceltico Active Member

    Hi all - It' been a busy two days. I've taken all of your advice and attempted to get a more productive direction. I haven't remixed the first song yet because I had to write another one. This one was supposed to be a swampy blues thing - replete with slide acoustic. Wow - that was a bugger to get tone with. I would love some feedback on the acoustic again after having tried to put many of your ideas in to practice and also on the overall mix, balance, etc. It is not a final as my ears are failing me at this hour. But I would be very grateful for your opinions on general balance and eq. I haven't eq'd the acoustic at all and it did make a difference I think. I just hope there's not too much super-ringy that I am missing.

    The song is Storm's A Comin at http://www.soundcloud.com/timbrogdon

    Thanks in advance,

  15. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Dude! That is some mean Dobro going on there.

    There's nothing wrong with having reflective surfaces in your room. It's foolish to think you need to be in a padded room in order to get good sound. Nothing sounds good in an anechoic chamber. Any major studio will have "Live" and "dead" ends to their room. Having everything entirely dead is unnatural.

    The slide guitar sounds pretty good. This is through an amp? I would have to guess yes. You should mix in some mic on that thing. Just a suggestion. I love the sound of a Dobro.

    I think it would be a good idea to try your best not to eq. It's just adds too many possibilities for problems. I think you're just thinking too much. Try backing the mic away a bit. Don't worry about getting the room sound in there. People sing and play in rooms. That's the way it is. Maybe your room isn't perfect. That's ok. Man they have reverb plugins that emulate rooms.

    Vocals in this song are better. I think there may actually be some dropout going on in "Time is On My Side".

    At any rate, the songs are great. There have been plenty a popular release with terrible sound. Nothing against Phil Spector. You've got the talent part down. That's 90% of the work AFAIK.
  16. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Time version VI sounds great BTW.
  17. zydeceltico

    zydeceltico Active Member

    Thank you for the much appreciated compliments Hueseph! The guitars in Storm are a mid-quality Takamine acoustic run mic'ed w/ a sm75 and then split in the daw to a clean track and the other tthru a maxxed tweed sim in GR5, an old epiphone big-bodied thing that I have patched and reglued several times mic'ed witth a Rode NT1a, - I love the tone of it. The electric at the end is a 56 Les Paul Jr thru an orange sim that I really tweaked in gr5 .

    I ended up close micing (6"? maybe) the 57 on the bridge of the Takamine and the epi was 2 feet off the bridge with the rode. The jr is just di.
    Padding or not - I ended up trying both and found that - in my room - baffling helped for the big strumming and no padding helped with the slide. I guess I'll just have to experiment for every song - which is understandable to find the right tone.

    Phil Spector! HA! My favorite - obviously - Wall O Sound - -course everything has air these days - -and it's cool and inspiring - but a huge learning curve for me - so again - Thank You for all of the invaluable advice.

    I put my final mix submissins for Storm w/ and w/out vocals up on http://www.soundcloud.com/timbrogdon if anyone cares to take a listen. I've been learning a ton here. Thank you!

  18. michael-collins

    michael-collins Active Member

    Take out the silence at the beginning of your tracks. It's not pro. Storm w/vocals sounds muddy like the other track I listened to. Eq out some mid range on the EQ. It is competing with the vocals a little bit also there so that will clear it up some. Like I said on sound cloud a bit of brightness on the acoustic guitars wouldn't hurt I think. The actual song/playing is friggen awesome though.
  19. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    I get the impression you're compensating for inaccurate monitoring with eq on the mix. Try playing some professional recordings you know well on the monitors until you get used to how they sound, then do a mix. Every now and then compare your mix to the pro recordings. Try to match the tonal balance.
  20. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    The Boulder in Colorado gets the right sound. I almost never start a mix without listening to my batch of reference CDs by the mega-engineers who engineered Michael Jackson, Earth Wind & Fire, all those along with my own stuff. You've got to start with a reference point and then just twiddle your knobs and software to make it sound like your reference CDs. It's easy... yeah right, check, easy. LOL but it does become a lot easier in time. But if it's not in time, you can always quantize time these days.

    Oh thank heaven for 7-11
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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